I’ve argued that Macs and iPads should be lumped together when measuring personal computer sales. If you combine Mac and iPad sales for the last fiscal quarter — 4.3 million and 7.33 million units, respectively — that comes to 11.63 million units. That would mean Apple has 11.3% of the worldwide market for computer sales.

And why not combine the two? The iPad runs a variant — a “lite” version if you will — of Mac OS X. The Apple tablet is seen as competition for netbooks. And some folks are using it in lieu of a laptop.

So how does this 11.3% figure compare to the biggest computer makers in the world? Quite favorably, as Paul Thurrott writes on his “Supersite for Windows” (http://macte.ch/txXKc).

He notes that, based on the latest data, HP notched 17.77 million computers sold worldwide, Dell had 10.9 million and Acer 10.8 million units. Of course, this doesn’t include the sales of other tablet devices. But, heck, let’s throw in Windows and Android tablets and see what difference it makes. A hint: very little.

“Depending on how you look at it, Apple is the number two PC maker in the world, arguably, and certainly in the top five,” Thurrott writes. “This is the first time such a thing has happened, and it’s only because of the iPad; previously, Apple didn’t even register in the top five worldwide, ever.”

And this doesn’t take into effect the fact that the Mac is gaining new users everyday. In fact, in the last fiscal quarter, the Mac grew at eight times the market average.

— Dennis Sellers